What are the future topics of applied research?

Publikation »Foresight Fraunhofer«

 

Publication »Foresight Fraunhofer« explores 51 topics of Innovation and Future Research

On behalf of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Fraunhofer IAO and three other institutes of the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research, have identified the most important future topics of applied research. In a foresight process, technological and societal developments were analysed with regard to their innovation potential and their relevance for applied research. Some spotlight topics such as geoengineering were discussed particularly controversially.

Which topics will shape research and society in the future? In order to find answers to this question, researchers from the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research have identified key issues for the future on the basis of broadly-based horizon scanning and evaluated them with a potential analysis. The so-called spotlights are divided into topics whose high relevance is already evident today (e.g. deep learning - artificial intelligence, biodiversity) and those which will develop dynamically out of their niches in the future (e.g. biohybrid technologies). What all 51 spotlight future topics have in common is that they are highly relevant for applied research. Some of them have the potential to create or change a new dynamic market, while others can have comprehensive social effects while the market relevance is still unclear.

Ergebnisse im Überblick: Forschungsbereiche, die durch
die Spotlights beeinflusst werden bis 2030.
Qulle: Foresight Fraunhofer

Ergebnisse im Überblick: Forschungsbereiche, die durch die Spotlights beeinflusst werden bis 2030.

In some of the spotlights, there is great agreement among the experts on their relevance (e.g. "liquid biopsy"). Others were very controversially discussed, such as the approach in geoengineering to reduce the melting of glaciers through geological landscape design in order to counter the effects of climate change. Even though the economic relevance of geoengineering is initially only indirectly apparent, experts say that special attention should nevertheless be paid to the topic, since the social impacts of technologies require particularly reflected action in research.

Many highly interesting topics were analysed in the project, including examples such as Artificial Brain, Global Protein Supply or Transient Materials. In some of the spotlights, there is great deal of agreement among the experts on their relevance (e.g. "liquid biopsy"). Others were discussed controversially, such as the approach in geoengineering to reduce the melting of glaciers through geological landscape design in order to counter the effects of climate change. Even though the economic relevance of geoengineering is initially only indirectly apparent, experts say that special attention should be paid to the topic, since the social impacts of technologies require particularly reflected action in research.

Extensive Fraunhofer expertise from all 72 research institutes

Cornelia Reimoser, Research Coordinator of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, emphasises another special feature of the project in addition to the systematic, very broad scanning of future topics: "The Fraunhofer Foresight Process uses the comprehensive Fraunhofer expertise across all 72 research institutes for its systematic look into the future. It identifies future topics for applied research that could have a decisive impact on economic and societal developments."

The now published interim results in German and English herald the second project phase: With the aim of further optimising the methodological approach, new digital information sources and evaluation options will be used and a dialogue initiated with the researchers of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.